Past Featured News
NEWS

Where’s the Fire? Campus Closures and the Rights of Unit 4 Employees

You Cannot Be Made to Take Vacation or Sick Leave When All Others Are Sent Home with Pay

01/09/2019

The wildfire season is upon us, and if that was not stressful enough, it raises a question that has been answered many times before:  When a CSU campus is closed due to an emergency and employees are told to stay home with full pay, can Unit 4 employees who are scheduled to be on paid leave—such as sick leave or vacation—during the emergency closure nevertheless be made to take that paid leave?    

APC has litigated this question several times, and the answer from the arbitrators has always been the same:  No!  

For example, Arbitrator Douglas Collins addressed the issue in APC and CSU (Concerning the Use of Leave During Emergency Campus Closures) (2009) (Collins, Arb.).  There, the issue was:  “Did the University violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement when it required certain Unit 4 employees at the San Marcos, San Diego, and San Bernardino campuses to utilize paid personal leave during the period of Monday, October 22, 2007, through Friday, October 26, 2007, when said campuses were closed due to the threat of wildfires?”  Id., p. 2.  Arbitrator Collins held:

“Under the terms of the Agreement, leaves of absence are to be used when an employee is unavailable for work due to illness, vacation, or for other reasons.  Here, there was no work for the affected employees because the University closed the campuses in question, and consequently there was no valid basis for charging time against their leave balances.”

Id., p. 12.

By contrast, Unit 4 employees who are scheduled to be on unpaid leave—i.e., in “dock” status—during a campus closure can be made to take that unpaid leave.  See APC and CSU Sonoma (Kim Abodallo Grievance) (2016) (Crost, Arb.) at p. 4.  (In case you were wondering:  We do not understand either why it should make a difference whether the employee is scheduled to be on paid or unpaid leave, but that is how the chips have fallen in arbitration.)

Holiday closures are another exception.  Thus, when a campus is closed between Christmas and New Year’s, employees can be required to use vacation or—in the case of non-exempt employees—compensatory time off (CTO) to cover those days during the holiday closure that are designated as work days.  However, “[a]n employee shall be permitted to use accrued vacation or CTO or may be permitted to work a sufficient number of extra hours in advance at the appropriate rate of compensation if the President closes the campus and there are an insufficient number of holidays scheduled to be observed during the closure.”  Unit 4 Collective Bargaining Agreement, Article 25.7.  And “[s]hould an employee, because of length of service, have insufficient vacation or CTO accrued to cover the scheduled days of closure, where possible, he/she shall be provided sufficient work to prevent any loss of pay or benefits.”  Id., Article 25.8.  If this is not possible, the employee can be docked in pay.

If you believe that you are improperly being made to take sick leave or vacation during an emergency closure, or are improperly being prevented from making up work during a holiday closure, please contact your campus APC steward or a member of the APC Labor Relations Team as soon as possible.